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Senators Working On Health Care Revision Ready To Release Their Plan


And NPR's Alison Kodjak, who covers health policy issues and is covering this bill, has been listening in with us. And she's on the line. Alison, what did you hear that was significant there?

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Hi, Steve. One of the interesting things that I heard the congressman talk about was this idea that Obamacare is imploding. He mentioned that Anthem, which is one of the biggest Blue Cross insurers, pulled out of some markets yesterday, which is correct. They pulled out of their markets in Wisconsin and Indiana.

But if you look at the broad map - you hear this from members of Congress quite a bit that it's imploding - there's a few states that have some counties that are not covered by insurance next year under the Obamacare market. A report by Kaiser Family Foundation says there's something in the range of 40,000 to 50,000 people that fall into those counties. But the bill they're talking about now, at least over 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office says, will throw 23 million people off their current coverage or off the coverage they would get under the current law. So the proportions of what they're concerned about seem a little off.

INSKEEP: In other words, you're saying that millions of people might lose or decide to go off of health insurance if they lose the subsidies that they currently have or if the subsidies they have are reduced. There's a question about who really cares about how many people. Is that what you're saying?

KODJAK: Yeah. Because right now, when they talk about places where there won't be any insurance available, that's only, you know, in the ten - it's counted in the thousands, not in the millions.

INSKEEP: Now, with that said, there may only be thousands of people who have no choice. But there are millions of people, it seems, who are down to one choice in the health insurance exchanges, which ain't exactly a choice. Is it true that something does need to be done to fix, if not replace, Obamacare and pretty soon?

KODJAK: Oh, certainly. There are definitely things that can be done and should be done to improve these markets and bring more insurance companies in. And that's one of the things that the congressman mentioned - you mentioned that Senator Rubio had taken some steps. The Trump administration has also taken some steps to make this uncertainty that has caused the insurance companies to drop out. They have said that they may not enforce the individual mandate.

Several insurance companies, including Anthem, have said that's one reason that they don't want to offer insurance in these markets. They just don't know what kind of market they'll be next year. So there are things that can be done to improve the markets without tearing them up completely.

INSKEEP: OK. And just very briefly, why is it that you're presuming - you're believing that the Senate version this bill has to be approximately like the House bill, could be tweaked but not drastically changed?

KODJAK: Well, these are tied to the budget, and they can't spend a lot more money than the Republicans in the House were spending on their bill, or else, they can't pass it.

INSKEEP: Alison, thanks very much.

KODJAK: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Alison Kodjak. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak is a health policy correspondent on NPR's Science Desk.